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British tycoon acquires licence to set up betting firm in Kenya

BetLion says it has been granted a Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) permit, making Kenya its second unit in Africa. British betting tycoon Victor Chandler, who is worth £230 million (Sh30.1 billion), is a significant shareholder of the Kenyan unit of BetLion that also count local investors as owners.The cigar-smoking betting boss, credited as a pioneer of telephone and online betting, is now eyeing a piece of Africa’s betting billions.

British tycoon acquires licence to set up betting firm in Kenya

British tycoon-backed betting firm will launch Kenya operations today as it seeks a piece of the online gaming billions of shillings. BetLion says it has been granted a Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) permit, making Kenya its second unit in Africa.“We are launching tomorrow (today) and our focus will be online sports betting,” says Spencer Okach, managing director for Kenya unit.

This will place BetLion in a head-to-head battle with firms like SportPesa, Betway and Betin that serve about seven million Kenyans registered for betting services.Kenya has witnessed a rapid growth online gambling and the government tax targets from betting estimates the sector’s annual sales at more than Sh36 billion.“BetLion focus will be on online betting and like SportPesa will ride on the mobile phone. They are Africa-focused” said the source at the BCLB — the industry regulator.British betting tycoon Victor Chandler, who is worth £230 million (Sh30.1 billion), is a significant shareholder of the Kenyan unit of BetLion that also count local investors as owners.The cigar-smoking betting boss, credited as a pioneer of telephone and online betting, is now eyeing a piece of Africa’s betting billions.

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Mr Chandler set up gaming firm BetVictor, which is now the official training kit sponsor of English Premier League giants Liverpool before selling it in 2014.BetLion has gained a significant share in the Ugandan market since setting shop early this year riding on the sponsorship. Kenya’s SportPesa started operations in Uganda in late 2017.BetLion is seeking a presence in eight African countries including Zambia and others in West Africa. The firm’s entry to Kenya comes after the Treasury successfully pushed for a change in a law that cut gaming tax from 35 per cent of gross revenues to 15 per cent, caving in to pressure from betting firms.The firms had opposed the 35 per cent tax which took effect on January 1, saying the high taxes are hurting their business and had opened the door for a black market for betting that could deny the taxman revenues.

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